Oklahoma Becomes 46th State

U.S. #1092 – “Arrows to Atoms” reflects Oklahoma’s evolution from the frontier days to the atomic age.

Oklahoma Becomes 46th State

On November 16, 1907, Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory were merged to create the state of Oklahoma.

For more than 100 years, the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole Indians had lived in close proximity to Europeans in the southeastern U.S. These people had adopted a great deal of European culture and were known as the Five Civilized Tribes. In 1819, the U.S. government began pressuring the Five Civilized Tribes to move west to Oklahoma. At that time, Oklahoma was mostly unpopulated. The government built Fort Towson and Fort Gibson, and forced the Five Tribes to move there.

U.S. #1678 – The Oklahoma flag represents the history of more than 60 Native American groups.

The Five Civilized Tribes were given control of all of Oklahoma except the Panhandle. Treaties stated the Indians would own the lands “as long as grass shall grow and rivers run.” Each tribe developed its own legislature, courts, laws, and capital. Farms and ranches were established, and churches and schools were built. Treaties protected the tribes from white settlement – until the Civil War.

U.S. #1988 – Oklahoma’s state bird and flower – Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher and Mistletoe.

The Five Civilized Tribes owned slaves. Originally from the South, they were invited to join the Confederacy. In 1861, some of the Indians entered into an alliance with the Confederacy. The leader of the Cherokee Indians, Chief John Ross, formed a brigade of Indians to fight for the South. Stand Watie, a Cherokee leader, became a brigadier general in the Confederate Army. A small number of Indians chose to fight for the Union. After the Civil War, the U.S. government forced the Indians to relinquish their lands in the West as a punishment for supporting the Confederacy.

U.S. #3596 contrasts Oklahoma’s historic cattle ranches with the modern buildings of today.

The land bordering the Indian Territory was quickly filled with white settlers. White cattle ranchers began driving their herds across these fertile lands as they traveled from Texas to rail centers in Kansas. Over 6 million longhorn cattle crossed the Indian land between 1866 and 1885. Cattlemen leased more than 6 million acres of Indian land for five years, but these leases were eventually declared illegal.

After a great deal of pressure from “boomers” (whites who wanted Indian land opened for settlement), the government changed its policy. The U.S. bought three million acres of land from the Creek and Seminole tribes. At noon on April 22, 1899, 1.9 million acres were opened for settlement. Settlers amassed at the border, ready to seize prime land. With a pistol shot, settlers raced into the land. By evening, 50,000 white families had moved to Oklahoma.

U.S. #4121 – “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’” is the opening song of the play, Oklahoma!

Congress established the Oklahoma Territory in May 1890. Over time, the Indians accepted individual allotment of their lands. This meant individuals held land titles, rather than tribes. Land not allotted to Indians was opened for settlement by whites. Oklahoma was often referred to as the Twin Territories. The Indian Territory consisted of the land owned by the Five Civilized Tribes, as well as some other Indian groups. The Oklahoma Territory made up the remaining land. White settlers began demanding access to the Indian land. In 1893, the Dawes Commission was created to negotiate with the Indians and dissolve their nations. The commission helped the Indians incorporate towns and prepare for U.S. citizenship.

U.S. #4315 – Before Oklahoma was admitted to the Union, it produced more oil than any other U.S. state or territory.

In 1905, Indian leaders called a constitutional convention and invited white citizens to participate. A constitution was adopted, but Congress refused to accept the state, instead asking the two territories to form one larger state. Delegates from both territories met in 1906, and created a new constitution. On November 16, 1907, Oklahoma achieved statehood with Guthrie serving as the first capital in 1910.

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13 responses to "Oklahoma Becomes 46th State"

13 thoughts on “Oklahoma Becomes 46th State”

    • An interesting insight ? Rather white washed version of what was also known as “the trail of tears” to be force moved to Oklahoma.

      Reply
  1. I’ve been daily following “This Day in History” since the beginning, July 1st. I’m thinking it’s time you published these days (138) of Stamp History into a nice book. I’d certainly buy one!

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  2. just another example of how Indians were swindled by the government though carefully worded to make it all sound respectable. BOO. I got a kick out of how the Indians were “prepared to become citizens of a land given to them as a consolation prize after all of the good land back east and up north was stolen from them by the white settlers and the soldiers who bullied them out. I wonder if this comment will be retained? I hope Mystic is more fair than the government often was not. BG

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    • Indeed, the Indians were cheated out of their lands. The Civil War gave the government a good excuse to take Oklahoma, but they would have found a reason anyway. They almost always did find a reason. I’m sure that had the Confederacy negotiated a treaty of peace with the US government that they too would have found a way to have most of Oklahoma. Many roads of pain, loss and sadness were into Oklahoma for the Cherokee, the Pawnee, Cheyenne, and other tribes.

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  3. This is a great article that explains the “relentless frontier-ism” of the human race and their thirst for continual eminent domain. William G has a misconception that this happens only to the Indians. By the way W.G., they prefer to be know as Native Americans.

    As History shows worldwide, it happened and still does to every creed, color, race, ethnic group and in any nation.

    It happened yesterday and will still be going on tomorrow, Somehow some strongly believe that we actually own a part of our Great Mother known as “Earth.” As the Native Americans have shown, we are only stewards of this Earth and own no part of it for ourselves. They would never deplete the ground and lush forests and grasslands as we “so called” Whites do. Share and share alike. Give and Take and Live and Let Live….Leave it better than when you found it. These are beliefs that help society and the human race was meant to embrace and portray.

    An eye for an eye, needless indiscriminate death and destruction, greed and vengeance, just to name a few character flaws, are our enemies. As History has shown again and again, these ill-human traits doom societies and will ultimately result in our demise. This will be because of Society, not any one Government.

    As Humans, We the People are our own Governors. If we fail to remember our History, govern ourselves responsibly, then we are all doomed to repeat it. GK

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  4. Interesting article, but you are 10 years off in reporting the date of the Oklahoma Land Rush, with people charging into the Indian Territory at the sound of a pistol shot at noon. The year was 1889, not 1899 as reported.

    I had three great uncles on my mother’s side who participated in that event, each claiming a 160-acre parcel of federal land by removing the stake planted by the government and turning it in to the land office. All three struck oil on their land, and all three died millionaires. There was no such thing as oil or mineral rights in those days–if you owned the land, you owned the oil or minerals found on it.

    A second such land rush was conducted in 1893, on land called the Cherokee Strip.

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  5. History is neither right or wrong… it what just what happened in the past . I grew up in Oklahoma in the area known as..the Cherokee Strip. My first girlfriend was a beautiful Cherokee Indian girl. Her grandfather lived with them and he wore a loin cloth and made bows and errors for his grandchildren. This was in the early in 1940, also my best boyfriend’s grandfather had been a gunslinger in Texas.. I remember his holster and gun belt with a 44? in it,. He always wore a brimmed cowboy hat and boots. Well that is my cowboy and Indian tale of my youth… but please remember that earlier the Indians in Oklahoma owned and sold slaves and nurtured the confederate flag, so watch where you go cause there is quicksand out there!!

    Reply

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